City attorney’s transparency stops at her door

Molly StumpIt’s ironic that the city attorney’s office door is a transperent glass panel.

But that’s as far as transparency gets.

Molly Stump is no champion to transparency. In fact, since becoming city attorney she continues to maintain a cloak of secrecy.

Every meeting she has conducted to date has been behind closed doors and she will take every legal position to keep it that way. Government Code Section 54956.8

Why? She’s not talking. Democracy’s foundation has alway been that of debate. And yet she remains silent. Her pledge to the citizens of Palo Alto of greater transparency remains unchanged since her inaugural speech.

All, a very cleverly designed ruse to keep us all in the dark while critical issues are discussed without input from the community she serves.

Yes, you have a chance during oral communications at city hall to express your opinion but where the real meat of discussion takes place has always been behind closed doors and away from public scrutiny.

Obama’s mandate on transparency completely egnored

“A democracy requires accountability, and accountability requires transparency. As Justice Louis Brandeis wrote, “sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants.”

In our democracy, the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), which encourages accountability through transparency, is the most prominent expression of a profound national commitment to ensuring an open Government.

At the heart of that commitment is the idea that accountability is in the interest of the Government and the citizenry alike.”

Stumps record on transparency is tanatimont to giving President Obama the three finger salute to his statements on transparency.

Website changes

”There’s a lot of information about the city’s legal programs that can be made available to the public and it’s important to me that it be done quickly and expeditiously so that people can participate,” Stump said.”

What’s transparent is that there have been no changes. In fact ,the last city attorney report to the citizens of Palo Alto was issued back in December 2007 and still reflects Gary Baum as city attorney.

All of this has left us stumped. We have seen nothing new or creative coming out the city attorney’s office when she in fact stated to her legal staff “I want both attorneys and staff to be inspired to bring their best effort to work every day.”

This is just as cryptic as her nonsense message and pledge on  transparency.

Palo Alto City employees so valuable that they deserve 4.5 % rises?

Are 211 Palo Alto City employees so valuable that they deserve 4.5 % rises.  No.

The City Council is spineless and afraid to upset the Public Employee Unions and thus risk losing votes and union money for re-election.

So the pay and benefits  always go up. Also the method of deciding if  ‘raises’ are necessary is wrong.  Currently the City compares its pay scale to that of neighboring cities.  Who cares what other cities are paying?

Public Serpents or Public Servants?

If our employees want to leave for work in Mt View or Menlo Park or anywhere, let them try.  Those jobs are already filled.   And if Palo Alto employees do quit.  Good.  Maybe they’ll try to find work in private business and then discover how  little they are really worth.

The Internet job boards are full of qualified, engineers, accountants, finance, and management people who would replace City fat cats for half the pay and no benefits.  Private sector workers are paid less money and few benefits but  are actually accustomed to producing profitable results on time and on budget.

Our current highly paid Public Serpents routinely harass individual property owners with arcane building requirements and failed to rebuild our own libraries and their own City Hall Palace on time or on budget.  City Hall employees need to be fired not rewarded.

Palo Alto councilwoman alleges public records request potential invasion of privacy

Palo Alto Councilwoman Liz kniss said she was contacted by 50 people who supported the city’s controversial car camping band before it was repealed but a local activist wants proof that Kniss is telling the truth.

Retired public defender Aram James, who has been a vocal supporter of the rights of the homeless, filed a public records request to see the emails and letters Kniss claimed she received in support of the city’s Vehicle Habitation Ordinance leading up to the Nov. 17 vote when the council appealed the ban.

James wonders why the people Kniss claimed emailed her didn’t show up to City Hall that night to express their support for a law that prevented people from sleeping in their cars.

Privacy issues

Kniss told the Post yesterday that those emails were sent to her personal email account and that she is in discussion with City Attorney Molly Stump as to whether they are subject to James’ request.

“I find it incredible invasion of people’s privacy, since they emailed me personally” Kniss said. “This is a tender issue and many people might not want their name on a public record supporting the ban.”

Kniss voted to repeal the band Nov. 17. The vote was 7-1 with only Councilman Larry Klein voting to keep the ban in place despite the advice of Stump, who warned the council the ordinance could expose the city to lawsuits since a similar ban in Los Angeles was deemed unconstitutional.

“I’ve never had my emails asked for and I’ve been in office a long time,” Kniss said yesterday. James wants to see the evidence, however” I’m looking for the facts” James said. He wants to make sure she is being “straightforward.”

Random checks by the public help ensure government officials are “living up to what they are saying.” Her personal emails are subject to disclosure laws if they relate to city business, he said. “That’s public information,” he said.

Some emails weren’t saved

Kniss isn’t sure, however she saved all the emails in her personal account. Someone may have to “dig it out of storage,” Kniss said.

The city will provide James an answer to his request no later than Dec. 12, according to David Carnahan, the city’s deputy city clerk.

The Council passed the car-camping ban last year. But the city decided to put the ban on hold until December 2013 when it learned of a case that challenged the ban in Los Angeles.

In June, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Los Angeles ban, which prohibited the use of cars “as living quarters,” was unconstitutional because it was too difficult for people to know when they were breaking the law.

Cheyenne Desertrain vs. City of Los Angeles

Opinion United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

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CHP vs PAPD city attorney says officers stealing and texting explicit photos are “quite different in scope”

An unnamed Palo Alto police detective won’t face charges for texting a picture of a “scantily clad” female burglary suspect who was in his custody, unlike a CHP officer in Contra Costa County, who faces two felonies and lost his job for doing the same thing.

Sean Harrington, a former CHP officer who worked in Martinez, is accused of stealing nude photos from the cellphone of a female DUI suspect and sending them to other officers.

Harrington, 35, pleaded innocent Nov. 14 to charges of stealing sexually explicit photos from the cellphone of a female suspect and copying the photos to send out to others.

The Palo Alto cop sent the picture from the female suspects own cell phone to his supervisor, but city Attorney Molly Stump said the incidents are different.

Stump said that while the CHP officers case may have “some parallels superficially” in the Palo Alto case, “they are actually quite different in scope,” due to the fact that there was only one photo texted by the Palo Alto police officer. She also said the context of the two cases is different.

A spokeswoman for the Sana’a Clara County District Attorney’s office declined to comment on the Palo Alto case, referring all questions to police.

The Palo Alto case came to light on Tuesday when the city released a report by its independent police auditors, who critiques police disciplinary cases and sends his findings to City Council twice a year. The auditors report doesn’t include the names of the officers who were disciplined or the names of the suspects arrested by police.

Auditor Mike Gennaco said in his report that the Palo Alto detective who texted the photo was disciplined internally, but he wouldn’t say what kind of punishment he received.

Gennaco said the detective texted the photo to a supervisor for “no legitimate law enforcement reason” and the supervisor took more than two weeks to report it.

“It was bad judgment and he [the detective] was held accountable,” said Gennaco who, with Stephen Connolly of the Pasadena-based OIR Group, serve as the independent police auditors.

Since the photo involved was distributed internally to another detective, the case was not seen as serious, but had it been shown to the public, the damage would have been greater and so could the penalty given the detective, Gennaco said.

When the woman received her phone back and the detective asked her to provide information about the person who had received stolen property from her, she noticed the text had been sent and complained to the detective not involved in the investigation, the auditors said.

‘Poor Judgment’

The Police Department’s investigation “concluded that there was no legitimate law enforcement reason for the detective ‘texting’ the photograph in the way and manner that he did “and it could have” left someone with the impression that it was sent as a joke,” the auditors said.

The department determined that the detective “exercised poor judgment” in sending the photo. It “was unbecoming for the officer and disrespectful to the arrestee” and “reflected unfavorably” on the department, the auditors said.

Gennaco and Connolly stated that police also concluded the detective had violated its policies and “and held him accountable for the transgression.”

The auditors themselves describe the department’s investigation as “thorough” and agreed with it’s disciplining the detective, but added that the supervisor should have  informed police command immediately upon the texting so that an investigation could have started right away.

The sergeant who learned of the photo should not have had the supervisor delete it before preserving it as evidence, even though the sergeant’s “intentions were good” in wanting to prevent it from being circulated, they said.

They further criticized detectives for “laxity of vigilance” for not watching the suspect closely after giving her the phone back to help them find a picture of her accomplice and then permitting her to scroll through the phone and possibly erase photos of evidentiary value.

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Wheel’s fall off car camping ban in Palo Alto

Palo Alto’s car camping ban was struck down after some City Council members agreed it could provoke lawsuits after a similar ban in Los Angeles was deemed unconstitutional.

The 7-1 vote to get rid of the ban, with Councilwoman Karen Holman absent and Councilman Larry Klein voting no, came Monday night after city Attorney Molly stump warned the council that current law could expose the city to lawsuits.

Pro and con

A handful of car camping ban opponents showed up to speak, although Councilwoman Liz Kniss said she got 50 emails from people who wanted to keep the ban. “Many of you who see this the same way have come forward but many others have stayed home tonight, “she said.

The City Council passed the ban in 2013, but the city decided to put the ban on hold in December when it learned of a case that was brought challenging the ban in Los Angeles.

Court case

In June, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Los Angeles ban, which prohibited the use of cars “as living quarters,” was unconstitutional because it was too difficult for people to know when they were breaking the law.

“The legal landscapes have changed dramatically, “Councilman Marc Berman said. “This is the right thing to do and the compassionate thing to do.”

Councilman Klein had different views. “I think this is a mistake for a variety of reasons, “he said. “There is no final determination as to whether this is unconstitutional,” he said.

He added that ditching the ban will make Palo Alto a magnet for car campers, since virtually all neighboring cities have some kind of law that bans car camping.

Cubberley ban

Another ban on car camping remains in effect in Palo Alto – a law prohibiting people from sleeping in their cars while parked overnight Cubberley Community Center 4000 Middlefield Road.

The ban was passed because of the concern that Cubberley had become a “de facto homeless shelter,” in the words of City Manager Jim Keene. The city also shut down the public showers the homeless had been using at Cubberley

Cheyenne Desertrain vs. City of Los Angeles

Opinion United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

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Palo Alto police alleged to have kidnapped autistic daughter 12 years ago

The city of Palo Alto will go to trial next month over a lawsuit filed by a couple who says a police detective abused her power and wrongfully took their autistic daughter away from them 12 years ago. But the Palo Alto city attorney’s office contends that the police officer was just doing her job.

The daughter, now 42, now lives in the San Andreas regional center in Campbell, a state run home for the developmentally disabled. The police officer accused, Detective Lori Kratzer, no longer works for Palo Alto police, but the city is still on the hook in the lawsuit.

The trial is scheduled to begin Oct. 3 in San Mateo County Superior Court, according to the couple’s Lawyer, David Beauvais.  The city council is scheduled to discuss the lawsuit, which stems from a November 2001 incident, in closed session on Monday.

In November 2001, Jeffrey and Elsie Golan lived in a trailer at 809 San Antonio Road in Palo Alto with their epileptic, developmentally disabled, autistic daughter Nancy, who was 31. They were starting businesses at the rented office space.

‘Happy, simple, gregarious’

Nancy spoke a few words, but could dress, feed herself and go to the bathroom on her own. “She was generally a very happy, simple, gregarious, lovable, charming, outgoing person… capable of feeling and experiencing all normal emotions.” according to the lawsuit.

Nancy was well cared for, according to the suit.  Her parents watched her around the clock, took her on long walks and try to get her out to interact with other people whenever possible.

“Nancy always came first,” the Golins’ lawsuit stated.

On Nov. 15, 2001, Nancy Golin woke up from taking a nap in the family’s van and wandered away while her mother was in the bathroom.  It wasn’t the first time she had walked away without warning, in fact it happened dozens of times before, by all accounts. The Golins called police, who searched all night with dogs but didn’t find her.

Police declare home a crime scene

In the morning, police, taking direction from Kratzer, swarmed the couples abode. There were as many as 20 police officers and 10 patrol cars there, according to the Golins lawsuit. Police photographed the van, looked for the Golins daughter in a nearby dumpster and took photos of the van, which they referred to as a “crime scene,” according to the Golins lawsuit.

Police also investigated the couple, but didn’t read them their Miranda rights or formally arrest them, the Golins’ Lawsuit said.

Kratzer told the couple that police needed to take Nancy to Stanford hospital for a checkup, according to the lawsuit. The couple claims that the detective never indicated that she was taking Nancy away because she suspected they weren’t caring for her.

After being brought to Stanford for a mental evaluation, she was put in the psychiatric ward. A year later, she would be placed in a residential care facility. She would never live with their parents again.

Nancy’s living conditions at issue

Accounts by the Golins’ and the city about the families living conditions differ. Kratzer’s report paints a bleak picture of Nancy Golins living space as a portion of a dark office with a small heater, stacks of boxes and a portable toilet.

Kratzer also said that the van Nancy slept in reeked of urine and after she returned home she had soiled clothes, oily hair, body odor and seemed like she hadn’t bathed in a long time, according to the Palo Alto’s response to the lawsuit.

Kratzer also questioned whether the Golins were mentally stable. Police records showed that the Golins had been involved in three domestic violence calls, while Jeff had been arrested nine times and Elsie had been arrested three times, according to the city’s response to the lawsuit. The lawsuit did not say what they had been arrested for.

But the Golins insisted that they took care of Nancy and organized their lives around her. “Elsie was living in her motor home with Nancy…Nancy’s family was not homeless or poor and Nancy was not neglected or endangered,” the couples lawsuit states.

In January 2002, Nancy Golin was taken away from her parents by the Santa Clara County District Attorneys Office and transferred to a residential care facility. Her parents could visit, but weren’t allowed to take her home according to Palo Alto.

Couple arrested

The Golins were arrested and charged by the DA with felony dependent adult abuse. Jeff Golin pleaded no contest, but the record was later expunged after he served six months of probation. The charges against Elsie Golin were dismissed entirely in December 2002, according to Palo Alto’s response.

The city contends in it’s answer to the lawsuit that Detective Kratzer was justified in taking Nancy away to have her evaluated because she kept wandering off and it seemed like it wasn’t a safe situation for her.

“The undisputed fact that a severely developmentally disabled person had been out all night, could not tell her parents or police what happened, could not relate her physical condition, and could not care for herself, necessitated a 5150 hold,” Palo Alto’s response said. A “5150 “hold refers to the authority of police to take a person against their will to a hospital for a 72 hour mental evaluation.

Palo Alto attorneys are also arguing that because Kratzer believed that she was following the law and had probable cause to arrest and take Nancy to Stanford for an evaluation, she can’t be found guilty of wrongdoing.

Nancy, now 42, is still living at the San Andreas Regional Care Center in Cupertino where she receives medical care, but her parents still want her back, according to Beauvais. He said that they are hoping to win the lawsuit and use it as evidence in a new case in Santa Clara County to get her back.

Other defendants

According to Palo Alto, Stanford is named in the lawsuit. Among other things, the Golins accused Stanford for generating misinformation about Nancy’s condition and not giving her the correct treatment when they took her there for treatment before the 2001 incident.

Santa Clara County is also accused of violating Nancy’s rights, in part for its role in putting a “conservator” in charge of Nancy who they believe allowed her to be kept in bad conditions at a home after she was taken away from them.

It also names Jamie Buckmaster, a program manager for the counties Adult Protective Services Department and Malorie M. Street, a Santa Clara County Public Defender.

The lawsuit also names Georgianna Lamb and Lisa Wendt, both of whom worked as Nancy’s conservator, and Andreas Regional Care Center.

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Post reporter kept out of transparency meeting

Even as some Palo Alto City Council members apologized to the public for secret meetings with billionaire John Arrillaga and promised more transparency, they repeatedly struggled to follow state transparency laws during their meeting.

The transparency troubles took place Monday night during a discussion on the city’s response to a scathing report from a Santa Clara County civil grand jury, a panel of residents commissioned by the court to investigate government operations.

The report had blasted the city for keeping from the public information about Arrillaga’s offer to buy a 7.7 acre parcel of land adjacent to Foothills Park that was a deed restricted as open space and a large-scale plan for 27 University Ave. that Arrillaga proposed on behalf of landowner Stanford.

One by one, the council members apologize or tried to explain what had happened. But despite promises to do better, the meeting offered several signs that the Council is still struggling when it comes to transparency.

For one thing, the discussion started more than two hours after the 9:05 PM scheduled start time. That caused council watchdog Hurb Borock to say at the microphone, “By the way, it’s two hours after your ‘transparency’ agenda said this was supposed to be.”

Sticking to the Brown Act

As council members talked about changes they wanted to make in the response to the civil grand jury, some also began discussing changes to city policy to prevent secret meetings from taking place.

Councilman Greg Schmidt was making suggestions for rules to limit secret and closed session meetings when Councilman Larry Klein interrupted to say that the council couldn’t start creating policy because it wasn’t on the agenda. Discussing something that’s not on the agenda would be a violation of the Brown Act, Klein said.

Next, Mayor Nancy Shepherd created a subcommittee comprised of Councilman Schmid and Pat Burt and tasked them with using the councils suggestions to edit the city’s response letter to the report.

‘Serial meeting’ rule

That’s when Shepard asked if the city council members could simply send their thoughts and comments to Burt and Schmid, presumably by email, rather than continuing to discuss their critiques at the public meeting.

But City Attorney Molly Stump jumped in and told Shepherd that doing so would be a violation of the Brown act.

“The discussion needs to happen in public,” she said. If the majority of councilmembers discussed a matter with each other via email, it would constitute what’s called a “serial meeting”, which is prohibited.

Reporter kept out of meeting

When this Post reporter asked if she could attend the meeting yesterday at City Hall, the city clerk said it was not a public meeting. With only two council members in attendance, it wasn’t required to be open to the public under the Brown Act.

Burt initially said he was OK with a reporter from the Post attending the meeting, then reconsidered after talking to Stump. He said that Stump told him it wouldn’t be fair to make the meeting open without giving all members of the public the chance to attend.

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Flintco claims Palo Alto won’t shovel over entitled library documents

The contractor fired from the long-delayed $28 million Mitchell Park library project is suing the city, claiming it violated the open records law by not handing over public documents it sought regarding the project.

Finger pointingThe city fired Flintco in January after months of accusations and finger-pointing over the troubled project, which was supposed to have been finished by April 2011. The city now has another contractor and says the Middlefield Road library will open in November.

Flintco said that the years-long delay was caused by hundreds of changes the city made, though it’s architect, “to address the inconsistencies, inaccuracies and gaps in the projects plans and specifications,” according to the lawsuit filed July 17 in Santa Clara County Superior Court.

In February, a month after being fired, Flintco handed the city and open records request that “in essence asked for all of the city’s documents regarding the project.”

It appears Flintco was requesting the documents in anticipation of litigation over the trouble project. On March 25th, city officials met with Flintco executives and made some of the documents available in hard copy form and on a flash drive.

“During the course of inspection, however, Flintco realized that the city was producing large quantities of documents that Flintco had not even requested and that the flash drive, in large part, duplicated the documents made available in hard copy for inspection,” the lawsuit states.

Most of the documents Flintco sought were withheld by the city, saying they were exempt from disclosure under the open records law. In refusing to turn over those documents, “the city’s response was a laundry list of boilerplate privileges and exemptions the city apparently relied upon to withhold responsive documents,” the lawsuit stated.

The lawsuit states that the city withheld some of the documents saying they were protected by attorney-client privilege or that they were “protected attorney work project.”  But Flintco said such a claim was implausible because the documents were communications between the city and third parties, not attorneys.

The city withheld documents claiming they were “draft reports” or documents that show the city’s “deliberative process,” which are two more reasons a city can give for not producing documents.

City hires out side counsel

When Flintco turned up the heat on the city for not producing the documents the city retained a private attorney, David W. Ginn, who intended to hire a consultant to find the documents Flintco was seeking.

But the lawsuit said Ginn told Flintco that the city was “having difficulty in gathering all the documents responsive to the request”. The suit said Ginn has declined to state when the request would be fulfilled.

City Attorney Molly Stump told the Post yesterday that the city gave Flintco thousands of pages of documents and was getting ready to turn over thousands more when it received the lawsuit. Flintco’s request for documents was so broad and general that it inhibited the city from responding, according to Stump.

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Whose responsible for the Mitchell Park library Fiasco?

Mitchell Park Library Well according to Flintco’s website report card, their position is clearly stated:

“When it comes to improving our service, we’re not satisfied just resting on our laurels. We want honest feedback from our clients and architects with whom we work on projects. We provide clients with the opportunity to provide feedback about our team’s performance through a monthly survey that is delivered directly to the office’s executives.

We’re proud to say that our monthly client satisfaction surveys consistently result in scores of 90% or above in such areas as quality, responsiveness, constructive solution capabilities, attitude, and communication.”

So who’s to blame?

On the other hand, the city of Palo Alto has delivered its own report card on Flintco’s performance. That report card resulted in the termination of their construction contract leaving the library’s completion date in limbo. Although rumors have its opening date set for sometime in December 2014.

So who’s to blame? The citizens of Palo Alto deserve answers but perhaps we will never know. Both sides are lawyering up for what seems to become a protracted legal battle with transparency being far removed from the process. Palo Alto legal discussions are always held behind closed doors far from public view.

Although it’s clear from Palo Alto city manager James Keene’s termination letter to Flintco, he’s outlined a construction punch list failures.

In all fairness, what’s missing is Flintco’s solutions to any of the cities constructive communications and nothing has been published at the cities website in this regard that we can see. And as we all know too well, there’s two sides of the story. It’s like missing chapters from a horror story leaving us to fill in the blanks.

What we do know is that this behemoth of a library project comes with an enormous price tag far from its original contract estimate of $24.3 million. Who knows neither what the bottom line or final price tag will be nor when it’s scheduled to open.

Finger pointing

From all of the lopsided documentation we’ve reviewed, all finger pointing is directed at Flintco. Is that fair? A closer look at the actual city contract, it becomes evident too at least to us, that Turner Construction was in fact responsible for the day-to-day oversight operations of Flintco as the principle contractor. In other words, Turner Construction was to make sure that as the Mitchell Park library Flintco project advanced, Turner Construction would coordination and assure Flintco would remain on schedule and meet all required construction deadlines.

Turner Construction responsibility we gathered are clear. Furthermore, the city recognized this and understandably so. According to the contract it states;

“The project administration workload for the Measure N bond projects is beyond what Public Works staff can administer without assistance. Amendment No.2 to the contract with Turner Construction (Attachment C) will provide for staff from Turner Construction to supplement Public Works staff during the construction of the MPLCC.

In addition to providing daily oversight of the respective contractors, sub consultants to Turner Construction will provide testing and inspection services for the project. Also included in Amendment No.2 are project administration services for the preliminary design of a temporary Main Library during the construction document phase of the Main Library.”

Millions of dollars to Turner Construction

According to the original contact, that’s what the taxpayers were to ultimately pay Turner Construction for overseeing Flintco Construction, millions!  All of that has changed now.  And, as of today, there still responsible for among other things, meeting construction deadlines, quality of workmanship, and assuring the proper certification of all sub-contractors.

In fact, the city has negotiated a new contract for more and more money to be shoveled out to Turner Construction in providing for additional construction oversight in light of Flintco’s contract termination.

Now that the city of Palo Alto is holding Flintco Construction Liable for everything, so it would appear, what burden does Turner Construction bare? Turner Construction is not talking and neither is Mike Sartor Director of Public Works. He’s ignored our email request for comment. What a fiasco!

Palo Alto city council engages in Mob tactic – Eliminate the evidence

The three Palo Alto City Council incumbents who will likely seek re-election this fall – Karen Holman, Greg Scharff and Nancy Shepard – will have a lot of explaining to do during the campaign about what’s happened in the past five years.

And when it comes to questions, at the top of the list should be city’s cozy relationship with billionaire land developer John Arrillaga.

The Santa Clara County Civil Grand Jury, a group of citizens convened by the courts to investigate local government operations, released a scathing report last week about the city’s secret dealings with Arrillage.

Secret meetings

The grand jury said that the city kept secret for nine months Arrillaga’s plans for a 10-story office building complex at 27 University Ave., where MacArthur Park restaurant is now located.

When the plans were revealed, just about everyone was astonished about how out of scale the project was to the rest of the city. Everyone except friends of TheatreWorks, who were promised a new theater by Arrillage as a “public benefit” for the ill-fated project. Billionaires can buy friends.

At the same time the city was working with Arrillaga on 27 University, it was also secretly negotiating to sell him 7.7 acres joining Foothills Park, which would have allowed him to expand his estate there.

Unanswered questions

It was the definition of a sweetheart deal. It never went through, but it will still be a fair question to ask Holman, Scharff and Shepard, “What were you thinking?”

Other questions:

  • “Why didn’t you alert the public to this proposed secret deal?”
  • “Were you suspicious when you were told to visit the site in groups of three?”

That’s a Mob trick don’t create any evidence

By going there in threes, they were able to legally bypass the Brown Act requirement that they publicize their meeting in advance.

  • “Did you think something was unusual when you were told that nobody was supposed to take notes?” That’s a Mob trick don’t create any evidence that can be used against you later.

The civil grand jury report didn’t break much new ground. It confirmed what this newspaper and others had already reported about the city’s dealings with Arrillaga.

But what makes the report important is that it was an objective investigation by an outside party, a group of people from San Jose who have no dog in the fight.

They took a look at what was going on in Palo Alto and were appalled.

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